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Jewish history in Georgia

2010 December 1

The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins at sundown. Meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, the observance celebrates the miracle Jews believe occurred in the Holy Temple when their lamp oil, which they thought would last only one day, provided them with eight days of light.

The history, struggle and culture of Jews living in Georgia is represented in the DLG. The most notable resource is the Southern Israelite: established in 1925 as a temple bulletin it also covered news about Jewish people from around the nation and the world. In 1934, the paper began weekly publication. One of the most significant stories it would report on was the Atlanta Temple bombing in 1958 (left). The publication continues today as the Atlanta Jewish Times.

The Vanishing Georgia collection documents Jewish citizenry, many of whom located in small towns to operate mercantile businesses and made contributions through civic involvement, including Charles Garfunkel, who was the first Jewish police chief in Savannah (right).

Also documented in Vanishing Georgia is the aftermath of the Leo Frank episode, including a 1915 photograph of the governor hung in effigy after commuting Frank’s death sentence. Frank’s appeal for clemency is chronicled in archival records from the Secretary of State’s office.

Temple Mickve Israel (Savannah, Ga.), John Linley Collection, box 8

Georgia’ s temples are represented in the John Linley Collection of historic architecture, including the Temple Mickve Israel (left) in Savannah, home to the third oldest Jewish congregation in the United States, and the oldest in the South.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. December 13, 2010

    The story of Jewish people in Georgia started much earlier of course; the first Jewish settlers arrived in 1734: http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/tdgh-jan/jan05.htm

    They were allowed to stay, primarily because one of them was a doctor:

    http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?path=/HistoryArchaeology/ColonialEraTrusteePeriod/People-4&id=h-3489

  2. A. Johnson permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Thanks Jean! I was married in Temple Mickve Israel.

  3. May 1, 2011

    oops, wrong page, disregard my previous post :)

  4. Blog permalink
    July 25, 2013

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  5. October 28, 2013

    This is certainly the 3rd post, of your blog I really read through.
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